Dell Adamo Admire Onyx review

Alan Lu
20 Oct 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

Dell's Adamo looks and feels like a classy ultra portable, but more practical laptops are available for less.



13.4 in 1,366x768 display, 1.8kg, 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300, 2.00GB RAM, 128GB disk, Windows Vista Home Premium

We're used to seeing cheap and cheerful laptops from Dell, but the company's latest ultra-portable, the Adamo Admire, is far more luxurious.

Our review sample came in black, though it's also available in silver, and weighs just 1.8kg. The slender metal enclosure is only 18mm thick and feels very robust and rigid, barely flexing at all under heavy pressure.

The minimalist design hides all the ports away on the back, rather than on the sides where they'd be easier to reach. There are three USB ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA connector, as well as DisplayPort and headphone sockets. There's no memory card reader or, given the limited space, ExpressCard slot.

The Adamo owes its slender lines to its non-user replaceable battery, the lack of a built-in optical drive and its 128GB solid state disk (SSD) which is more compact than a hard disk. SSDs are more rugged and use less power than hard disks since they don't have moving parts. However, this SSD's limited capacity mean it's ill-suited for storing a large media library.

Another major power-saving component is the low voltage 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 processor. Its overall speed of 39 in our applications benchmarks means it isn't very quick at demanding tasks such as video encoding, but it's still faster than almost all the netbooks we've seen. As expected, the integrated Intel graphics chip isn't up to playing the latest games.

Despite these power-saving components, the Adamo's battery life is disappointing. It lasted just over five hours in our light-usage test which is respectable for an ultra-portable, but newer and cheaper ultra-portables based on Intel's latest low voltage processors last longer.

We were immediately taken with the 13.4in widescreen display. It's very bright with accurate, vivid colours and wide viewing angles. There's plenty of contrast too, but the glossy finish can cause glare. An external monitor can be connected via the DisplayPort socket, while non-DisplayPort monitors will require a VGA or DVI adaptor, for around £25.

The keyboard is spacious, with no undersized keys and it's also backlit, making it easier to type in dim conditions. Unfortunately, the keys have very little travel, so it's not always obvious if you've pressed one or not. The touchpad buttons feel stiff, requiring too much pressure to use, but the large pad feels accurate.

Dell's Adamo is an undeniably desirable ultra-portable laptop and at £1,000 it's cheaper than other similarly specified ultra-portables, such as Apple's MacBook Air. Its comparatively short battery life and uncomfortable keyboard limits its usefulness, though.

Unless you're smitten with its looks, we'd recommend Acer's TravelMate Timeline, which has a more sedate design but is a more practically designed ultra-portable.

Basic Specifications

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo SU9300
Processor clock speed1.2GHz
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory4GB
SoundIDT HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption idle14W
Power consumption active24W


Viewable size13.4 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 4500M HD
Graphics/video portsDisplayPort
Graphics Memory64MB


Total storage capacity128GB
Optical drive modelnone
Optical drive typeN/A

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11a/n
PC Card slotsnone
Supported memory cardsnone
Other ports1x eSATA


Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows Vista Home Premium
Operating system restore optionWindows disc
Software includednone
Optional extrasnone

Buying Information

Warrantyone year onsite